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By Jodi Brown, the Ultimate Kitchen Commando

Agri-farming

Power! Knowledge is

Ah, January. By the time this month rolls around, food consumption, guilt and extra pounds are vying for the number one spot in the front of your brain. To make matters worse, the cold of winter has you craving mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy and donuts. In my opinion, the cool weather of January is the worst time of year to start beating yourself up about food consumption. By early February our weather will start to get warmer and your desire for hot carbs will begin to wane. This month, let’s focus instead on educating ourselves and preparing our lives to make some serious changes as the weather starts improving. As an educator focused on food consumption as a vehicle towards better health, I am frequently shocked when I engage in conversations with smart, articulate adults that don’t have any idea what a GMO is. I am equally shocked that they have managed to evade the frightening information about agri-farming, or large scale chemically controlled factory farming of beef, chickens and pigs. To be clear, I am not against animal consumption per se. What I am against is the consumption of toxic animal products.

GMOs

Genetically modified organisms came to market in the late 90s touted as the great white hope for the future of food. The GM industry and its supporters claimed that these newly engineered crops were strictly regulated for safety and would increase yields, reduce pesticide use, reduce energy usage, benefit the environment, and would help feed the world. Unfortunately, none of that was true. Genetically modified organisms result when you take the DNA of one species and force it into the DNA of another. In food there are two main types of GMOs. The herbicide tolerant ones allow plants to be

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sprayed with chemicals and not die. Those are made by injecting glyphosate (aka RoundUp) into the DNA of the seeds. The pesticide producing crops are injected with bacillus thuringiensis (BT), which creates a protein that causes the bugs that eat the plant to die. The U.S. government has allowed these organisms into our food supply without ever requiring the manufacturers (or anyone else) to test them to see if they are safe for human consumption. GMOs are in 70 percent of the processed foods on our supermarket shelves. We consume them every day. No laws require that they are labeled. I strongly urge you to further educate yourself about GMOs and I suggest you do it through independent information sources. Find out why over 60 countries worldwide have chosen to ban them. There are nine GMO food crops. They are corn, soy, canola, zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, alfalfa, sugar beets, cotton (seed for oil) and papayas. Fresh produce with the USDA Organic label is your best choice for avoiding GMOs in the fresh foods area of the market. The Non-GMO Food Project is a non-profit organization whose website states, “We offer North America’s only third party verification and labeling for non-GMO food and products.” If you want to avoid GMOs in your prepared foods, look for this label.

This is the most important stuff you need to know. When you consume animal products cultivated in this way, you are eating everything the animals receive via food and injections. • 70 percent of the antibiotics used in the country are used in agri-farming. • Growth hormones are the reason that chicken breasts now look more like turkey breasts. • Grain-fed cows get fat faster on GMO crops like corn and alfalfa. So do you.

Organics

Manufacturers of foods take a very liberal approach to labeling foods. Difficult as it may be to hear this, most everything on the front of any packaged food item is intended to confuse you. It’s marketing pure and simple and for some reason the FDA and the USDA are not bringing the hammer down on what’s on the front of your packaging. But, the ingredients list on the rear is a whole different ball of wax. They can get in big trouble for lying there, so if you really want to know what’s in your prepared foods, start on the ingredients list. Organic, unfortunately, means nothing unless it is USDA Organic, so be sure and look at the packaging carefully for this label. If it says organic on the front (not USDA certified) I can pretty much guarantee that when you flip the package over and look at the rear, all of the ingredients listed will not be organic. Becoming USDA certified is a cost prohibitive endeavor for many small farmers. When you are shopping at a farmers’ market, you might want to just ask the farmers individually if they use pesticides or herbicides. Or, you might ask if they maintain organic “methods” in their farming. Many small farms can’t afford to pay to get certified, but keep clean land. If they are growing organically, they are going to want to elaborate and share the info with you as it is a great source of pride for many. If you can’t afford to buy organic all the time, the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) has a list of the “dirty dozen/clean fifteen” that can help you to make choices by understanding which foods have the most pesticide residue on them. You can lower your chemical intake greatly by understanding which fruits and veggies are the most chemically laden. Organic matters to your body and the planet. Please support organics by purchasing them whenever your budget allows.

You are powerful. You cast a vote about our food system every time you shop. Buy local, organic, seasonal items from farmers’ markets and independent shops whenever you can. You won’t regret the feelings of community and good health. Nothing you do is too small or insignificant to matter. A series of small successes always adds up to a larger one.

I hope you’ll join me for one of my upcoming retreats at the state of the art and very luxurious spa, Escape at Wind Creek in Atmore, Alabama. My Food Makeover Retreats in February and April will hand hold you through the process of transitioning to a healthier food lifestyle. I’m not going to tell you how to do it; I’m going to show you. In addition to a ton of great and useful information about food and diet choices, you’ll learn how to handle your fresh food purchases completely--from the selection process, through prep and storage. Then I show you how to gain maximum nutritional value from it when it’s consumed. Grab a friend and share a room and the rates are even lower. Please log onto my website at www.UltimateKitchenCommando.com for more information. About the Author: Jodi Brown is the Ultimate Kitchen Commando and loves to turn people on to delicious and healthy foods. She assists people with food transitions and teaches healthy cooking classes. She shares her time between New Orleans and Pensacola. To learn more, visit www.ultimatekitchencommando.com.

January/February 2013

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Knowledge is Power